The U.S. is set to create a new $1 billion fund for energy projects in Europe and Eurasia to free countries like Ukraine from Russian energy dependence, ABC News reports.
American lawmakers say Moscow uses its dominant position in energy to exert a malignant influence across the region.
The plan authorizes approximately $1 billion in financing over the next four years from the U.S. government for energy projects in the region — a new strategy to counter Russian influence. It will also give the U.S. Trade and Development Agency an additional $31.5 million to facilitate U.S. companies working with European energy projects.
The program, created with bipartisan support by Congress, also includes new sanctions on Russia’s Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream pipeline projects to Europe, while the Senate weighs even further penalties on Moscow.
But it may face headwinds from President Donald Trump, who continues to try to improve ties with Russia and increase trade and economic exchange. Just last week, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo promised “significant announcements about economic efforts” with Russia soon.
While the Trump administration has been supportive of the bill, Trump’s browbeating of NATO allies and deep disapproval of him in Europe have raised questions in European capitals about the U.S., with leaders like French President Emmanuel Macron calling for stronger European unity.
“We’re trying to find new and inventive ways to alter the reality in Europe, which is an America that is increasingly totally and completely irrelevant,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., who co-sponsored the bill, told ABC News Wednesday.
Those U.S.-boosted projects would push back on Russian energy dominance, Murphy and his co-sponsor Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., argue, in turn minimizing President Vladimir Putin’s political and economic leverage in neighboring states and even into the heart of Europe.